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Peer clustering of exercise and eating behaviours among young adults in Sweden: a cross-sectional study of egocentric network data

Author:
  • Kieron J. Barclay
  • Christofer Edling
  • Jens Rydgren
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Publication/Series: BMC Public Health
Volume: 13
Issue: 794
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: BioMed Central

Abstract english

Background: Research suggests that the growing prevalence of obesity may be related to the influence of the health behaviours of peers. We look at clustering of exercise and eating behaviours amongst a previously unstudied group, young adults in Sweden. Previous research has mainly been conducted in the United States and Britain, countries that have relatively high rates of obesity. Methods: Using ego-alter dyads from the egocentric network data as the unit of analysis, we conduct logistic regressions to investigate the association between ego and alter exercise and eating behaviours. Results: Respondents have a significantly greater probability of engaging in regular exercise and eating healthily if a nominated peer also does so. Furthermore, the degree to which this behavior is shared is modulated by the strength of the relationship between the two individuals, with a greater probability of engaging in these behaviours observed when the relationship with the nominated peer is strong relative to when the relationship is weak. However, we find that ego-alter homogeneity in terms of gender and migration status was not associated with a significantly greater probability of behaving in a similar manner to a nominated peer. Furthermore, the status of the nominated peer as a relative or not did not impact the probability that the ego would engage in similar health behaviours to that alter. Conclusions: We observe strong associations between ego and alter health behaviours for young adults, consistent with previous research. Although we cannot draw causal inferences, these results suggest that the health behaviours of an individual's peers may play a role in shaping their own health behaviours.

Keywords

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
  • Social networks
  • Egocentric data
  • Social clustering of health behaviours

Other

Published
  • ISSN: 1471-2458
Christofer Edling
E-mail: christofer [dot] edling [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se

Dean

Faculty of Social Sciences

+46 46 222 88 62

35

Professor

Centre for Economic Demography

10

Professor

Sociology

+46 46 222 88 62

333

31

Background

I earned my PhD from Stockholm University in 1999. Between 2002 and 2005 I was Torgny Segerstedt Pro Futura Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study at Uppsala University. I received my Docent-title in 2003, and was appointed Associate Professor at Stockholm University in 2004. From 2006 to 2008 I was Head of the Department of Sociology at Stockholm university. Before coming to Lund in 2012 I served as Full Professor of Sociology at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany. I have been a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2004/05) and Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (2013).

Department of Sociology
Lund University
Visiting address: Sandgatan 11, House G, Lund
Postal address: Box 114 , SE-221 00 LUND, SWEDEN
Telephone: Student Office +46 46-222 88 44, Lund University Switchboard +46 46-222 00 00

Faculty of Social Sciences